Sugar is a dangerous drug. Overconsumption is associated with obesity, diabetes, heart disease, premature aging, inflammation, hormonal imbalance, depression, the list goes on. What’s most disconcerting? The devastating effects of sugar aren’t just connected to candy bars and sodas. Most of the sugars we consume are hidden in supposedly "healthy" foods like yogurt and granola. The World Health Organization just released a guideline stating that adults and children should consume only 6 teaspoons a day (in contrast to the average American’s 22-32 teaspoons per day). With much of our intake hidden in these supposedly "healthy" foods, it’s best to keep a sharp eye out. Watch out for these 6 foods that often contain lots of hidden sugars.
With much of our intake hidden in these supposedly "healthy" foods, it’s best to keep a sharp eye out. Photo credit: Shutterstock
1. Yogurt. Yogurt is a great, protein-packed way to start your morning, right? Not always. Most flavored yogurts are absolutely loaded with sugar—sometimes as much as 8 ounces of Coke—making that healthy breakfast a surefire way to skyrocket your insulin levels. If you want yogurt, buy unsweetened Greek yogurt (and don’t be afraid of fat). For balanced sweetness, toss in a few blueberries or drizzle on some raw honey or maple syrup. Put yourself in control over how much sugar is going into your body.
2. Cereal. (And packaged granola bars.) Let’s face it—without sugar, many cereals would taste like cardboard. Gluten-free and low-fat foods especially are loaded with sugar to make up for the lack of other essential flavor components. If you’re looking for a good cereal, look for one that has sugar (or one of its many iterations) low on the ingredients list. Even easier, look for a cereal with 8 grams or less per serving to keep morning blood sugar levels steady and always consume it with a good source of protein or fat to keep your insulin in check.
3. Orange juice. While there isn’t much added sugar in orange juice, the natural sugars from 3 or 4 oranges can add up quick. Eating a whole orange balances the sugars with fiber, providing a less stark insulin rise. However, when you drink orange juice, you’re getting thrice the sugar without the fiber of the whole fruit. While orange juice can be a great, healthy treat, having a big glass every morning isn’t much better in the sugar department than having a glass of Coke.
4. Condiments. From salad dressings to ketchup, the sugar in condiments can add up quick. It’s shocking how much sugar can be added to these seemingly innocuous sauces and spreads. Salad dressings can have upwards of 5 grams in one serving. Ketchup has a high quantity by nature, but oftentimes it contains high-fructose corn syrup, which is even worse. Look for an organic ketchup with a less refined sugar that is lower on the ingredients list and try making your own salad dressing at home out of balsamic vinegar and olive oil. With other condiments, be sure to take a quick glance at the nutrition label so you know what’s going in to your body.
5. Tomato sauce. Even savory items hide loads of sugar. Think tomato sauce is a safe bet? Think again. Many jarred sauces contain surprising quantities of sugar to bring out the sweetness of the tomatoes. From Prego’s to Bertolli’s, a serving can pack anywhere from 2 to 3 teaspoons of the sweet stuff. Try making a quick sauce at home with tomatoes, garlic, basil and olive oil. It’ll be much more satisfying, fresher and not loaded with hidden sweeteners.
6. Peanut butter. Say it ain’t so! Most mainstream peanut butters are loaded with added sugar. Why? Because the combination of peanut butter and sugar is delicious. It’s also important to watch out for hydrogenated oils in many peanut butters, so keep your eyes on the labels. Save yourself some stress and make your own nut butters at home. If you need a little sweetness, eat it on a peanut butter banana sandwich or drizzle it on some toast with a touch of honey.
To learn more about the hidden sugars present in healthy foods, check out That Sugar Film. Essentially a "Super Size Me" with sugar, the documentary follows a man as he consumes the amount of sugar an average Australian eats—160 grams or 40 teaspoons per day. But get this: he doesn’t live off of sodas and candy. He eats "healthy" foods, like dried fruit, low-fat yogurt, cereal and the like. It’s an eye-opening take on how dangerous sugars can be, even when wrapped in a healthy package—well worth a watch. Sugars are practically ubiquitous in our lives: keep your eyes open, educate yourself and know what’s going in to your own body.
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If weather is your mood, climate is your personality. That's an analogy some scientists use to help explain the difference between two words people often get mixed up.
Size Matters<p>Climates are a bit like woven tapestries. The big picture is important, no question. But so are all the seemingly minor details found inside the larger whole.</p><p><a href="https://research-information.bris.ac.uk/en/persons/tommaso-jucker" target="_blank">Tommaso Jucker</a> is an environmental scientist at the University of Bristol. In an email, Jucker says he'd define the term microclimate as "the suite of climatic conditions (temperature, rainfall, humidity, solar radiation) measured in localized areas, typically near the ground and at spatial scales that are directly relevant to ecological processes."</p><p>We'll talk about that last bit in a minute. But first, there's another criteria to discuss. According to some researchers, a microclimate — by definition — must differ from the larger area that surrounds it.</p><p><a href="https://www.cfc.umt.edu/research/paleoecologylab/publications/Davis_et_al_2019_Ecography.pdf" target="_blank">Forests</a> provide us with some great examples. "The climate near the ground in a tropical rainforest is dramatically different from the climate in the canopy 50 meters [164 feet] above," says University of Montana ecologist <a href="https://www.cfc.umt.edu/personnel/details.php?ID=1110" target="_blank">Solomon Dobrowski</a> in an email. "This vertical gradient among other factors allows for the staggering biodiversity we see in the tropics."</p><p>Likewise, scientists observed that a 2015 partial <a href="https://animals.howstuffworks.com/insects/bees-stopped-buzzing-during-2017-solar-eclipse.htm" target="_blank">solar eclipse</a> caused the air temperature of an Eastern European meadow to <a href="https://rmets.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1002/wea.2802" target="_blank">change more dramatically</a> than it did in a nearby forest. That's because trees provide not only shade, but their leaves also reflect solar radiation. At the same time, forests tend to reduce wind speeds.</p><p>All those factors add up. A 2019 review of 98 wooded places — spread out across five continents — found that forests are 7.2 degrees Fahrenheit (4 degrees Celsius) <a href="https://natureecoevocommunity.nature.com/posts/47363-forests-protect-animals-and-plants-against-warming" target="_blank">cooler on average</a> than the areas outside them.</p><p>Now if you hate the cold, don't worry; there's a cozy exception to the rule. According to that same study, forests are usually 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit (1 degree Celsius) warmer than the external environment during the wintertime. Pretty cool.</p>
A Bug's Life<p>When does a microclimate stop being, well, micro? In other words, is there a maximum size we should be aware of when discussing them?</p><p>Depends on who you ask. "In terms of horizontal scale, some have defined 'microclimate' as anything that is less than 100 meters [328 feet] in range," Jucker says. "I'm personally less prescriptive about this."</p><p>Instead, he says the "scale at which we want to measure [a particular] microclimate" ought to be "dictated" by the questions we're trying to answer.</p><p>"If I want to know how temperature affects the photosynthesis of a leaf, I should be measuring temperature at centimeter scale," Jucker explains. "If I want to know if and how temperature affects the habitat preference of a large, mobile mammal, it's probably more relevant to capture temperature variation across [tens to hundreds] of meters."</p><p>For instance, solitary plants have the power to generate itty-bitty microclimates. Just ask <a href="https://www.colorado.edu/geography/peter-blanken-0" target="_blank">Peter Blanken</a>, a geography professor at the University of Colorado, Boulder and the co-author of the 2016 book, "<a href="https://amzn.to/2XN6FT8" target="_blank">Microclimate and Local Climate</a>."</p>
The urban heat island effect is a good example of how microclimates work. NOAA
Microclimates on a Grand Scale<p>It's no secret that our planet is going through some rough times at the macro level. The global temperature is <a href="https://climate.nasa.gov/vital-signs/global-temperature/" target="_blank">climbing</a>; nine out of the <a href="https://www.noaa.gov/news/2019-was-2nd-hottest-year-on-record-for-earth-say-noaa-nasa" target="_blank">10 hottest years on record</a> have occurred since 2005. And by one recent estimate, roughly 1 million species around the world are <a href="https://ipbes.net/sites/default/files/2020-02/ipbes_global_assessment_report_summary_for_policymakers_en.pdf" target="_blank">facing extinction</a> due to human activities.</p><p>"One of the big questions that ecologists and environmental scientists are trying to answer right now is how will individual species and whole ecosystems respond to rapid climate change and habitat loss," says Jucker. "...To me, [microclimates are] a key component of this research — if we don't measure and understand climate at the appropriate scale, then predicting how things will change in the future becomes a lot harder."</p><p>Developers have long understood the impact small-scale climates have on our daily lives. <a href="https://science.howstuffworks.com/environmental/green-science/urban-heat-island.htm#pt0" target="_blank">Urban heat islands</a> are cities that have higher temperatures than neighboring rural areas.</p><p>Plants release vapors that can moderate local climates. But in cities, natural greenery is often scarce. To make matters worse, plenty of our roads and buildings have a bad habit of absorbing or re-emitting heat from the sun. <a href="https://www.google.com/books/edition/Microclimate_and_Local_Climate/LHUZDAAAQBAJ?hl=en&gbpv=1&bsq=urban%20heat%20island" target="_blank">Vehicle emissions</a> don't exactly help the situation.</p><p>Still, it's not like Boston or Beijing are thermal monoliths. Sometimes, the documented temperatures <a href="https://e360.yale.edu/features/can-we-turn-down-the-temperature-on-urban-heat-islands" target="_blank">within a single city</a> vary by 15 to 20 degrees Fahrenheit (8.3 to 11.1 degrees Celsius).</p><p>That's where metro parks and city trees come in. They have nice cooling effects on nearby neighborhoods. "Several cities around the world have developed programs to increase urban green spaces," says Blanken. "Tree planting programs and green roof programs, have been shown to lower surface temperatures, decrease air pollution and decrease surface water runoff (urban flash-flooding) in urban areas."</p>
An "explosive" wildfire ignited in Los Angeles county Wednesday, growing to 10,000 acres in a little less than three hours.
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Note: This story was originally published on August 6, 2020
If asked to recall a hurricane, odds are you'd immediately invoke memorable names like Sandy, Katrina or Harvey. You'd probably even remember something specific about the impact of the storm. But if asked to recall a heat wave, a vague recollection that it was hot during your last summer vacation may be about as specific as you can get.
<div id="ecf36" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="c2dcc9d48a6cd61f247df1544539a783"><blockquote class="twitter-tweet twitter-custom-tweet" data-twitter-tweet-id="1290959314132361216" data-partner="rebelmouse"><div style="margin:1em 0">Naming heatwaves is a good idea—making the abstract concrete, the invisible visible. Why should hurricanes and wild… https://t.co/hDWgYb79Ob</div> — Ed Maibach (@Ed Maibach)<a href="https://twitter.com/MaibachEd/statuses/1290959314132361216">1596623660.0</a></blockquote></div>
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One of the challenges of renewable power is how to store clean energy from the sun, wind and geothermal sources. Now, a new study and advances in nanotechnology have found a method that may relieve the burden on supercapacitor storage. This method turns bricks into batteries, meaning that buildings themselves may one day be used to store and generate power, Science Times reported.
Bricks are a preferred building tool for their durability and resilience against heat and frost since they do not shrink, expand or warp in a way that compromises infrastructure. They are also reusable. What was unknown, until now, is that they can be altered to store electrical energy, according to a new study published in Nature Communications.
The scientists behind the study figured out a way to modify bricks in order to use their iconic red hue, which comes from hematite, an iron oxide, to store enough electricity to power devices, Gizmodo reported. To do that, the researchers filled bricks' pores with a nanofiber made from a conducting plastic that can store an electrical charge.
The first bricks they modified stored enough of a charge to power a small light. They can be charged in just 13 minutes and hold 10,000 charges, but the challenge is getting them to hold a much larger charge, making the technology a distant proposition.
If the capacity can be increased, researchers believe bricks can be used as a cheap alternative to lithium ion batteries — the same batteries used in laptops, phones and tablets.
The first power bricks are only one percent of a lithium-ion battery, but storage capacity can be increased tenfold by adding materials like metal oxides, Julio D'Arcy, a researcher at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri, who contributed to the paper and was part of the research team, told The Guardian. But only when the storage capacity is scaled up would bricks become commercially viable.
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<div id="79024" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="4ac086eab58b9713f2ad777c40938252"><blockquote class="twitter-tweet twitter-custom-tweet" data-twitter-tweet-id="1293578984148606977" data-partner="rebelmouse"><div style="margin:1em 0">This actively puts peoples' lives at risk. https://t.co/GKF0Xgjyex</div> — CAP Action (@CAP Action)<a href="https://twitter.com/CAPAction/statuses/1293578984148606977">1597248238.0</a></blockquote></div>
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